Chelsea continued their impressive run of form as they stormed to a 4-0 victory over Mark Hughes’ defensively hapless Stoke City side in the Premier League this afternoon.
Antonio Conte’s side got off to the dream start, confirming Potters fans’ fears of their defensive vulnerability by undoing their back-line within two minutes of kick-off, with César Azpilicueta feeding star striker Álvaro Morata to fire home a composed finish. Pedro doubled the lead in the 30th minute, capitalising on a defensive error and scoring a superb strike.
Conte’s men put the game beyond doubt late on, with Morata scoring his second goal of the afternoon with a cheeky chipped effort. The Spanish sensation soon had his hat-trick, finishing off a beautifully flowing move with a simple tap-in. Chelsea were well-deserved winners, highlighting the strength and depth they possess as a title-challenging unit.
The Blues started the game exactly as they would have hoped, with midfield enforcer
Following a period of ebb and flow between the two sides, with neither side causing the opposition much of a threat, Chelsea doubled their lead, with hard-working winger Pedro seizing the opportunity presented to him by a Darren Fletcher midfield error – gobbling up the errant chested back-pass and rifling a beautifully curving shot passed a helpless Jack Butland.
Bakayoko and N’Golo Kante began to boss the midfield for Chelsea, working as a unit to deny the Potters’ playmakers time to make their mark on the game – pouring water over the bonfire of any forward play from Hughes’ side. The Potters fans’ frustrations began to become vocal, after makeshift wing-back Mame Diouf skewed a wild bicycle kick effort well wide of the Blues’ net.
The second half picked up where the first left off, with attacking intent being shown by both sides. Both Shaqiri and Marcos Alonso were booked early on, as the game began to noticeably more heated. The latter was lucky not to be sent off moments later, after controversially bring Diouf to the ground with a clumsy tackle.
The fiery game continued at a frenetic pace, with the hosts finally registering their first shot on target in the 60th minute. Shaqiri aimed a tame, left-footed shot at the Chelsea goal, and Blues stopper Thibaut Courtois was more than a match for the weak strike, snaffling up the effort with ease. Stoke came close soon after, with Diouf somehow missing from three yards out.
The Blues put the game to bed in the 77th minutes, as Morata scored his second goal of the afternoon with an excellent solo effort. The Spanish international snatched a loose ball played by the woeful Glen Johnson, before powering passed Darren Fletcher and dipping an exquisite chip over Butland, who committed himself to ground far too early.
Morata then claimed his hat-trick in the 83rd minute, with substitute Cesc Fábregas showing his trademark creative genius, leading a flowing move down the field which saw Azpilicueta claim his second assist of the day – chesting Fàbregas’ expertly played pass into the path of Morata, who slotted home a simple finish.
The Blues ran-out deserved winners in the game, displaying a superb combination of defensive grit, clinical finishing and much-needed composure in a bubbling cauldron of a ground which has seen both Manchester United and Arsenal come unstuck so far this season.